The 20 best sneaker designs of all time

11. Nike Air Force 1

Sneaker designs Nike Air Force 1

Nike Air Force 1

Released in 1982, the iconic and collectible Air Force 1 was the first basketball shoe to feature Nike's air cushioning system. It enjoyed huge popularity in basketball quarters at least three years before mass-adoption as a fashion item, likely because of the trailblazing (and clever marketing) of the later Air Jordan and Air Max ranges.

12. Nike Air Jordan 11

Sneaker designs Nike Air Jordan 11

Nike Air Jordan 11

While many of the Air Jordan range are, in my opinion, utterly hideous pieces of footwear (the 12s a case in point), it's easy to see why the Air Jordan 11 was the fastest-selling shoe of all time and continues to be held in high regard by sneaker enthusiasts.

Timeless yet forward-thinking styling and some rather lovely colourways see the 11s equally at home as bad-ass streetwear or when shooting hoops with friends.

13. Adidas TRX Comp

Sneaker designs Adidas TRX Comp

Adidas TRX Comp

The TRX range was a range of running shoes released by adidas in the mid-70s, soon to be adopted by clued-up fashionistas. The top-of-the-range Comp is my particular favourite: a mesh and suede upper combined with the unusual sole make these a striking piece of sneaker design.

Bob Marley was often seen sporting a pair of TRXs and frankly, if they're good enough for the Tuff Gong, they're definitely good enough for me.

14. Nike Air Max 95

Sneaker designs Nike Air Max 95

Nike Air Max 95

Nike had already had success with Air Max versions 1-3 (the third more commonly known as Air Max 1990), but no one expected the brash design statement that was the Air Max 95.

Lovers of old-school classic simplicity thought they were an aberration. It's true to say the high-tech features, weird contours and vaguely extra-terrestrial detailing were a major leap for sneaker design that, for better or worse, we haven't looked back from since.

15. Adidas Gazelle

Sneaker designs Adidas Gazelle

Adidas Gazelle

In the same way that the Samba became a staple of shoe wardrobes the world over, so the same can be said of the Gazelle, Adidas' classic training shoe released in 1968. Their simple timeless styling has been available in pretty much every possible colourway over the years. The Gazelle remains a much-loved design classic.

16. Nike Air Jordan III

Sneaker designs Nike Air Jordan III

Nike Air Jordan III

The 1988-released Air Jordan III holds a special place in the hearts of most Jordan enthusiasts. This iconic design classic was the first to feature the now legendary Jumpman logo and the first to feature Nike's patented air sole window units.

Popular to this day, re-issues of this classic sneaker design are still sported by the likes of Jay-Z and hip-hop hopefuls everywhere.

17. Adidas Kegler Super

Sneaker designs Adidas Kegler Super

Adidas Kegler Super

Cool-as-you-like, the visually striking Keglers saw adidas pushing design boundaries, in terms of aesthetics, functionality and comfort. The beefed-up sole sported three adjustable pegs at each side, allowing the wearer to alter the feel of the sneakers.

Despite shipping with a set of distinctly unsexy orthopaedic-style plastic adjustment rods, the adidas Kegler was adopted by design-conscious 80s casuals as a symbol of downright cool.

18. Nike Bruin

Sneaker designs Nike Bruin

Nike Bruin

The Nike Bruin is, quite simply, a legendary sneaker. Released in 1972 as a low-top basketball shoe, its simple clean lines, solid suede upper and prominent leather Swoosh helped launch the Nike brand into the sneaker-buying public's consciousness.

19. Nike Cortez

Sneaker designs Nike Cortez

Nike Cortez

The Nike Cortez is another legendary shoe with historical significance. First released in 1972, Nike's first ever sneaker was actually a re-working of the Onitsuka Tiger Cortez, which in turn had been designed by Nike's co-founders. The Cortez has never been out of production since its first classic release, in white leather, with a red swoosh and distinctive blue line on the side sole.

Since released in pretty much every imaginable colourway and material, the Cortez will always be a sleek, highly desirable design classic.

20. Vans Era Checkerboard

Sneaker designs Vans Era Checkerboard

Vans Era Checkerboard

Before skater-shoe technology's head-on collision with NASA, self-respecting '70s skateboarders were seen in one sneaker and one sneaker only: Vans.

These unassuming California deck shoes might not have attained their design classic status had Vans not involved skaters in the design of what became the 95, popularly known as the Vans Era. This ubiquitous sneaker design (particularly the black-and-white checkerboard colourway) was so successful that it has since sailed far beyond its skater origins, via new wave punk bands and indie kids, into the wider global consciousness.

So that's my list. I know, I know... the list of designs I've missed is longer than the list itself. But which of mine would you ditch, and which classic sneaker designs would you replace them with? Let me know in the comments!

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